Why Do They Shout and Make Sounds in Martial Arts and Boxing?

Have you ever wondered why martial arts gyms are so noisy or why boxers and other martial artists shout when training? Most people assume they do so for intimidation, which is partially true, yet there’s quite a bit more to it.

They shout and make sounds in martial arts and boxing because this assists with technique, improves their power, and intimidates their opponents. Shouting and other sounds are used to tighten the core muscles which helps generate more power and control breathing. 

In this article, I’ll explain why martial artists and boxers shout and make sounds when training or fighting. I’ll also discuss the history behind this and provide valuable tips on breathing correctly to maximize your energy and power output when training.

Why Do Martial Artists Shout and Make Sounds?

When martial artists shout and make exhalation sounds, they tighten their core muscles and release their energy during the execution of a move or technique. In many cases, martial artists will develop a habit of making certain sounds, even though they are not completely necessary.

However, in Karate, Taekwondo, and other martial arts, shouting is part of the technique. There’s a whole history behind why martial artists make certain sounds and why they are ingrained in the technique. 

Here are some of the practical reasons why martial artists make certain sounds: 

Tradition and Historical Precedent

Some martial arts instructors will teach their students to grunt or make certain noises during the technique execution. To the beginner, this may be unnecessary. However, there’s often a historical perspective on why certain fighters make certain sounds. 

In many cases, these martial arts originated as combat training for war. As such, war cries were often added to the technique to intimidate the enemy. 

Over time, these war cries became part of martial arts. This is true for many Japanese martial arts such as Karate. Some instructors believe that shouting in a certain way when you punch or kick can increase power, although this depends on your breathing and technique. 

For some instructors, these “cries” are considered essential to the technique. Meanwhile, other instructors may not emphasize these aspects as much. Some experienced instructors even claim that they can identify whether the student’s technique is correct by the sound they make when punching or kicking. 

It’s Part of the Technique 

In many martial arts, making certain sounds is part of the technique. It helps students know when they have completed part of a move and can help them complete certain katas or moves correctly. When you breathe properly during a punch, you inhale when winding up and exhale as you throw the punch. 

This technique can also increase power. There are also scientific studies that claim martial artists who make noises will exert more strength than those that don’t. Many boxers make these sounds only when punching with power. Some studies have backed the claim that shouting while punching or kicking can increase the force and velocity of the move. 

However, don’t fall into the misperception that yelling gives you more power. It’s a combination of technique, energy, and intent that results in additional power in a strike, and shouts really just help to make it easier to do the technique properly.

It Gives a Psychological Advantage

Making loud sounds in boxing and other martial arts can intimidate opponents and create a psychological advantage. It can distract opponents and cause them to be unsuspecting of a counter. 

Letting out a loud sound when punching can also cause the opponent to perceive the punch as harder than it is. The opponent may also be wary of your punches and overreact to certain movements. 

Another psychological advantage of shouting when punching is that it adds to your confidence. Self-confidence plays a vital role in martial arts. It can be the difference between winning and losing when two opponents have equal skills.

So, if you want to gain a psychological advantage over your opponent in boxing or other martial arts, practice channeling your energy to ‘shout’ at impact. 

It Aids With Muscle Memory

Releasing loud sounds when executing a martial arts technique helps develop a habit of associating the sounds with your moves. This may help you learn certain moves faster, as sound is a great way to train muscle memory. 

Over time, you’ll develop your own sounds when punching or kicking, and it may become your identity in the gym. Once you’ve mastered many of these moves, you’ll be able to execute them without the shouting sounds.

It Helps With Pain 

Letting out a shout when getting hit is a great way to take your mind off the pain. Interestingly enough, it has proven to be effective in reducing physical pain. Some instructors advise you to tighten by letting out a shout if you can’t avoid getting it. This sound braces your body for impact and may reduce the effect of the blow. 

It’s also a great way to prepare your mind for the impact, so you don’t feel it badly. In martial arts like boxing, there’s a common saying: “you don’t get hurt by hard punches; you get hurt by punches that you don’t see coming.” 

So, next time you’re in a position where you’re going to get hit by a punch, brace for the impact by letting out a cry and tightening your core. 

How Should You Breathe When Doing Martial Arts?

You should always keep breathing controlled when doing martial arts. Manage your breathing to ensure you have enough oxygen and utilize exhalations alongside movements and techniques to maximize effects. Avoid fast shallow breathing since it leads to exhaustion.

Breathing properly is a critical part of martial arts and can help you manage your fights more effectively. It can help you remain calm, improve power, and help your overall performance. Keeping breathing in mind when performing your training routines is quite valuable.

Keep these tips in mind to perfect your breathing when practicing martial arts: 

  • Keep your body relaxed, even when under pressure. You can’t breathe properly when you’re tense. 
  • Inhale when you wind up and exhale when you release. The body should tighten in the last stage of the punch or kick. 
  • Match your breathing rate with your movements. When moving slowly, breathe slowly and deeply. You can accelerate your breathing when moving faster. 
  • Breathe in slowly and exhale the air in multiple bursts. This is great for doing combination moves faster. It’s also responsible for the “psst” sounds that you hear many martial artists make. 
  • Never inhale with speed. This only reduces your air inflow and leaves you gasping for breath. The key is to stay relaxed when under pressure, and the only way to do so is through practice. 

By staying relaxed and practicing your breathing regularly, you’ll be able to conserve more energy and adjust your breathing for more explosive movements. 

Some masters will teach you specific breathing techniques before you start training. Practice these breathing techniques as you would practice any other fighting technique, and you’ll notice a significant improvement in your game.  

Why Do People Make Fighting Noises?

People make fighting noises as a form of breathing control. Fighting noises come from exhaling and tightening the core, which results in a better release of stored energy. Fighting noises help keep fighters calm and can aid with power and pacing within a fight.

In some cases, people will make fighting noises to intimidate opponents. However, this isn’t practiced as a technique in many martial arts. Fighting noises can also have a range of psychological benefits, such as improving the fighter’s confidence and focus. 

Why Do Fighters Grunt? 

Fighters grunt due to a release of energy when exhaling. In particular, boxers and Muay Thai fighters release these sounds when punching or kicking. These sounds are caused by stopping short of exhaling completely and tightening the core. When the diaphragm contracts, it releases a “grunt.”

Some fighters will make several grunts within a single move or combination to control their breathing. They may inhale once during the movement and exhale several times when letting the air out as they punch or kick. Studies have proven that releasing the energy with a grunt can improve the force exerted due to double peak muscle activation. 

Have you ever ground your teeth when angry or applying pressure to something? It’s a natural way to strengthen the muscles and prepare for impact. The same applies to fighters, although their movements are more controlled. 

Sometimes, fighters may grunt when taking the impact of a blow since they will tighten their core in a similar way when they accept a blow as when they deal one.

Why Do Boxers Hiss When Punching?

Boxers hiss when punching to increase the force of the impact. Hissing prevents them from exhaling completely to redirect the tension to the punch. It also helps with breath control and allows the boxer to complete the round without getting as tired. 

A boxer will be relaxed when inhaling or moving around. However, when they come within contact range, they inhale deeply to prepare for punching.

As they punch, their core starts to tighten, releasing a hiss upon contact. They may hiss several times when executing certain moves, which helps them coordinate attacks much better. Boxers are taught how to breathe properly, especially as they compete on higher levels.

Can You Shout in Boxing? 

You can shout in boxing to improve your maximum power output. Boxers won’t usually shout as much as karate students or other martial artists and usually make a hissing sound. However, many boxers will shout when throwing power punches as the sound release helps with maximum power output. 

You can shout mostly when hitting power shots, such as throwing the final punch in a combination, a big right hand, or other knockout punches. Some amateur boxing referees may caution you if you shout with every punch, so keep it in check. 

When training in boxing, your breathing is directly linked to the sounds you make. If you inhale properly and exert force when exhaling, you’ll produce a hiss or grunting sound.

Boxers generate significant power from their core when striking, which is why they will grunt and hiss when executing power shots. However, most boxers will go for fast, crisp shots most of the time and occasional power shots. 

Is It Better To Breathe Through Your Nose or Mouth When Boxing?

It’s always better to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth in boxing since it increases oxygen uptake and lowers jaw injury risk. There’s a common misconception that inhaling with your mouth helps you get more oxygen, but you actually increase carbon dioxide levels in your blood.

Inhale slowly and exhale in short, fast bursts to increase your breathing speed. Boxers should bite down on their mouthguard when in fighting range. This helps reduce the impact of blows to the jaw. Never keep your mouth open in boxing, as it could cause you to break your jaw. 

Some trainers allow you to exhale quickly through your mouth, but there’s no need to open your mouth wide when doing so. This is why boxers will “hiss” instead of “shout” when punching. 

How Do You Breathe When Punching?

To breathe properly when punching, you must start by being calm and relaxed. Take a deep breath through your nose before you enter the striking range and initiate your punching combinations. Do short exhalations with each strike to maximize power and control your breathing optimally.

Inhaling properly before tightening your core and closing the distance provides your body with the oxygen it needs to execute punches properly. Tighten your core when throwing punches in order to optimize your striking power.

Exhale as you throw the punch and activate your core while doing so. Tightening your core while focusing on proper rotation will maximize your striking power.

If you’re throwing multiple punches, you can exhale in several small breaths with each strike, which will help you tighten your core at the right times. For more powerful punches, exhale bigger. It is always useful to be practicing proper breathing while punching in order to preserve energy and maximize your striking power.

Final Thoughts

Controlled exhalations, grunts, and shouts are integrated into many martial arts and combat sports. This is mostly due to the importance of controlling breathing and the fact that contracting your core muscles is vital to generating maximal power output when throwing punches.

Ultimately, executing techniques with core contraction and mindfulness with breathing is all that matters, and shouting and grunting are not actually necessary. However, building these shouts and noises in when executing strikes can be helpful to make sure you are doing these things correctly.

For more check out Which Martial Art Has the Best Punches?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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